2019 Holiday Gear Guide: Baseball Cleats
Whether Bryce Harper, Mike Trout or even a tie to video games, cleat-makers not only put a focus on comfort and performance but also personality when designing the game’s latest on-field cleats. As every brand looks to infuse their own spin on fit, materials and performance, having a unique style to go with can help grab the attention of young players and give players a connection to the game through cleats.
Nike’s long-standing relationship with Trout shows off this connection well. The Nike Force Zoom Trout 6 includes a lightweight upper with a strap for stabilization and angular spikes for traction.
“A comfortable cleat needs to last,” Trout said. “You can’t have a cleat break down after wearing it for a week. You obviously can’t have heavy feet out there during play. Linear speed is a critical part of the game.”
Mike Ekstrom, Nike Baseball product line manager, said the Force cleat for Trout blends speed, power and explosive athleticism in one cleat. The design ties directly to the All-Star by paying tribute to some of his favorite footwear silhouettes as a kid, including that midfoot strap reminiscent of early Nike Baseball Huarache cleats and a toe cap borrowed from the Nike Air Max Diamond Elite.
Nike also features the Lunar Vapor Ultrafly Elite 2 for a focus on speed and traction, and the Alpha Huarache Elite 2 that includes Zoom Air for underfoot cushioning and a nine-stud design for traction and stability. “Knowing baseball season is a marathon,” Ekstrom said, “we want to ensure that a ballplayer is feeling just as fresh at the end of the season as he was on Opening Day.”
New Balance has placed a focus on durability for its latest cleat offering, the New Balance COMPv2 cleat. Using a full-length Fuel Cell midsole—the brand’s newest cushioning property—and a chemical additive in the existing plate for enhanced durability, New Balance has moved its Fit-Weave upper design into the COMPv2 using on-field data to help engineer the weave.
Released in November, the latest offering from New Balance puts technology at the forefront to improve performance. “The COMPv2 is our most versatile and thoughtfully designed baseball cleat offering,” said Matt Nuzzo, New Balance Baseball product manager. “The new baseplate additive enhances the durability and longevity of the COMPv2 so players have consistent traction on all field surfaces.”
During the MLB Playoffs, adidas launched a new collection of cleat designs with a direct tie to video games. The video game-inspired 8-Bit collection took the brand’s adizero and IconV cleats into a new aesthetic with 8-bit graphic styles in red, blue, black and white colorways.
“We wanted to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation for the launch of the Adidas Baseball 8-Bit collection,” said Aaron Seaborn, senior director of Adidas Baseball.
The Under Armour Harper 4 brings the brand’s technology into the baseball category for a cleat focused on comfort, flexibility and durability. The cleat features a weave on the upper, designed with strong, yet lightweight thread for additional support and durability in high-wear areas and a stretchy, tongue-free fit that hugs the foot in a sock-like bootie style. The hybrid cleat plate includes metal spikes up front for speed and power and molded rubber cleats in the back for comfort.
“We wanted to push the envelope and build something that no one has ever seen on the field before,” Harper said. “With the different textures and hybrid outsole, it feels more like a sneaker than a baseball cleat.”
Spencer Hawkins, Under Armour senior designer, said the use of advanced woven textiles improves the performance of the cleat. “We spent countless hours with Bryce to build a shoe that truly expresses his unique sense of flair and will modernize style within baseball,” he said. “Both the cleat and turf trainer contain distinctive details that allow the consumer to feel more personally connected to an athlete than ever before.”
The Mizuno Dominant 2 includes a nine-spike configuration with a design that emphasizes comfort, flexibility and cushioning using the brand’s Wave technology to keep players high on a stable base while absorbing pressure when planting their feet. The Wave design disperses energy across the plate and gives extra support in the arch.
“We are making great strides in the footwear space by combining our long-running nine-spike plate design with uppers that are sleek and utilize comfortable materials,” said Clint Sammons, sports marketing manager for team sports.
Mizuno also launched the Dominant in an all-surface version ideal for artificial turf and indoor surfaces.
And while Skechers isn’t making a commercially available cleat, it did create a cleat for new spokesperson Clayton Kershaw to wear during the MLB Playoffs signifying a potential new avenue for the shoe company.